Trump Proposes Larger Holes in Safety Net for Low-Income People

The Trump administration says that it plans to reduce poverty in the U.S. by cutting, changing, or limiting a number of safety net programs designed to help low-income people. Claiming he wants “to get more people off government aid and into the workforce so they can become self-sufficient,” Trump says his various proposals will do this by “promoting opportunity and economic mobility” for those who live in poverty or are low-income.

One such item put in place by the Trump administration is a memorandum that calls on federal agencies to enforce a law that requires sponsors of green card holders to reimburse government agencies for cost of government benefits the sponsored immigrant has used. 

Though Trump insists this legislation will help immigrants to be “more self-sufficient,” Immigrant rights advocates say that the change is intended to discourage green card holders from applying for needed benefits; and also to restrict immigration, both legal and illegal.

A related proposal by the Department of Homeland Security would make it more difficult for immigrants to get green cards if they receive benefits such as SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or “food stamps”) or housing assistance. Immigrant rights advocates point out that this change would impact not only immigrants, but their family members who are already U.S. citizens. 

A pending proposal, ironically coming from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, would rescind a requirement for payday lenders to determine whether a potential borrower will have the ability to repay a requested loan. Because of easy availability of payday loans, many low-income people find themselves burdened with interest rates of up to 300 percent, and the inability to repay them. Often, they borrow more to repay earlier loans. 

Trump has also proposed stricter enforcement of the work requirement for low-income people to continue to be eligible for SNAP benefits. After three months of receiving SNAP benefits, able-bodied adults would be required to work, volunteer, or get job training for at least 20 hours a week. A related proposal that would impose work requirements for Medicaid recipients has been challenged in court.

An estimated 750,000 current SNAP recipients could lose their benefits because of the inability to find work or meet other requirements.

“They really are trying to use every agency to make life harder for people who are low-income,” says Elizabeth Lower-Basch, director of income and work supports at the Center for Law and Social Policy.

Other proposed pieces of legislation aimed at the safety net for those with low incomes include recalculation of the poverty line, and restriction of waiving the asset and income limits for SNAP eligibility.

Trump is fond of framing his proposed trashing of the safety net as a way to “help people help themselves.” He says he wants to ensure that taxpayer money is spent on “those who are truly in need.” 

But if one doesn’t have enough food, doesn’t have an address to list on a job application, or can’t get healthcare to remain healthy in order to work, isn’t that what it is to be “truly in need”? It seems ironic for a group of legislators who have never experienced poverty to make the determination that others who experience it daily, aren’t “low-income” enough to deserve help. 

Cuccinelli Unveils Trump Policy That Favors Wealthier Immigrants
Bloomberg [2019-08-12]

Why Trump’s new limit on food stamp eligibility will affect working families most | PBS NewsHour [2019-07-23]

Trump Tweets: Squad “Free to Leave”

Donald Trump seized the opportunity to take to his preferred presidential platform on Sunday to address the American people, tweeting comments full of racist language that appeared to be aimed at the four progressive Democrat congresswomen of color who have come to be called “The Squad.” 

“…So interesting to see ‘progressive’ Democrat congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough.”

Ocasio-Cortez, who was born in New York, responded, “The country I ‘come from,’ and the country we all swear to, is the United States.”

Ayanna Pressley (MA), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY), Rashida Tlaib (MI), and Ilhan Omar (MN), House freshmen collectively known as “The Squad,” have had a well-publicized clash with Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as over Pelosi’s reluctance to pursue impeachment proceedings against Trump. Trump, who has repeatedly insulted and denigrated Pelosi, used the clash as an opportunity to lambaste the four women, despite the fact that it meant momentarily siding with Pelosi. 

Citing Ocasio Cortez’ statement that Pelosi was being disrespectful in “explicitly singling out newly-elected women of color” for criticism, Trump said of Pelosi, “She is not a racist.”

Trump, who continually and consistently shows disrespect for any number of people, including Pelosi, said, “I think Cortez is being very disrespectful to someone who’s been there a long time (Pelosi).”  

Pelosi’s response to Trump’s remarks was that the president had demonstrated that his plan to “Make America Great Again” had always been, essentially, to “make America white again.”

Ocasio-Cortez further responded to Trump’s remarks: “You are angry because you don’t believe in an America where I represent New York 14, where the good people of Minnesota elected (Omar), where (Tlaib) fights for Michigan families, where (Pressley) champions little girls in Boston.

“You are angry because you can’t conceive of an America that includes us. You rely on a frightened America for your plunder.”

On Monday, Trump continued his Twitter campaign against The Squad, seizing on some of the trigger phrases for his base, including stating that the women “hate America,” and that they should “apologize to Israel.” Trump did, however, move from  his previous proclamation that “They can go back to where they came from” to “They’re free to leave.”

Incidentally, only one of the “Squad,” Ilhan Omar, “came from” another country. Omar, who was born in Somalia and spent time in a refugee camp, emigrated to the U.S. at age 12, and is a U.S. citizen. Several reporters have reminded readers that Trump, along with The Squad (and most of us), has an immigrant heritage, as well.

Trump Says Ocasio-Cortez Is Being Very Disrespectful to Pelosi | Bloomberg [2019-07-12]

Trump defends Pelosi amid feud with Ocasio-Cortez |
Fox News [2019-07-12]